The Dangers of Saaaaaaaaaaaafety

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Safety is getting pretty dangerous.

In particular, the driver “assists” (as they’re styled) being added as part of the standard equipment suite in almost all new cars. These are really driver-pre-emption technologies which countersteer – and apply the brakes – when the computer decides that these interventions are necessary.

Leaving aside the nannying issue, there is a safety issue with all this “assistance” – which is sometimes provided when it’s not wanted much less needed.

I’ve experienced this myself, test-driving new cars. I was driving one of these – a new Prius, equipped with Automated Emergency Braking – when it applied the brakes – full force – for no apparent reason. I almost had dashboard for lunch. There was no deer in the road. The car ahead of me had not braked – let alone stopped. But the Prius did. Completely. In the middle of a road that was – thankfully – not busy at the time.

Had it been busy, I might have been ended – as slamming on the brakes and stopping in the middle of the road can be unhealthy if there’s a semi behind you.

Humans watching the road anticipate the need to slow/stop. They cover the brake; are ready to brake.

These automated systems apply full stop electronically, without warning – and sometimes, without reason.

Boom – crash.

These systems can’t be overridden by the driver once automatically activated. The computer also cuts the throttle as it applies the brakes, so frantic slamming of the accelerator pedal to the floor will do absolutely nothing until the computer decides that “assistance” is no longer needed.

You’ve lost control over “your” car – put in air quotes to emphasize the absurdity. Like “your” house that’s paid off but which you’re still obliged to pay taxes on, forever, in order to be allowed to continue living there.

Control is the functional definition of ownership. That which you don’t control, you don’t really own – no matter the paperwork.

And it’s not just me that’s experienced this.

843 people have lodged formal complaints with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about their vehicles braking suddenly for no apparent reason. There have been at least 14 crashes and several reported injuries. More than half a million Nissan vehicles are the focus of the just-opened investigation into the matter – but it’s potentially millions of vehicles.

And not just Nissans.

NHTSA is looking into Nissan Rogues made between 2017 and 2018. But as I experienced – and not just the once – other makes and models of cars also automatically brake when there’s no reason for them to do so.

And countersteer.

This is styled Lane Keep Assist (or Steering Assist) and like Automated Emergency Braking (also styled Collision Avoidance) it is becoming very hard not to find in any new car, regardless of make or model.

You feel the wheel pull – even jerk – the car to the left or the right, depending on the whim of the computer that controls electric motors attached to the steering system, which apply steering force in the direction you don’t want to go.

It is very unsettling. Literally.

The most common scenario is for the “assist” to countersteer during an evasive maneuver – such as passing a slow-moving vehicle that turned into your path. Or to avoid a pothole in your path. If you didn’t signal prior to the maneuver, the computer registers the maneuver as “lane departure” that requires its “assistance.”

This is more than just peremptory. It is dangerous. The driver may not expect the unwanted “assistance” and jerk the wheel in the opposite direction – overcorrecting the car off the road – or into the path of oncoming traffic.

Even if control is maintained, the car has been unsettled – and as any professionally trained driver knows, smoothness is safety.

As opposed to saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

These “assists” are the antithesis of smooth – and thus, safe – driving.

And the technology behind it all is general – something not reported in coverage of the burgeoning Nissan debacle.

It is probable that many of the components used in the abruptly braking Rogues under investigation are sourced from a single common supplier. Like Takata – the supplier of killer air bags – which supplied them not just to Honda but to numerous other car manufacturers as well.

Millions of cars were (and still are) “affected” – in the argot of NHTSA, which was responsible for mandating them in the first place.

And here we go again.

What many people outside the car business don’t know is that many of the components that go into a car are not made by the company whose badge is on the fender. They are sourced from a supplier who may sell the same item – with perhaps a different stamping – to several other car companies.

Who makes the sensors that “sense” the need for the brakes to be applied? How about the other bits and pieces?

But the problem may be worse than that. It may prove to be the case that the systems are working as designed.

I can vouch for the sudden/unwanted and unnecessary application of braking force in several different makes and models of cars whose “assist” programming fretted roadside berms – especially in the curves – which the programming regards as an object in the car’s path.

The driver – having consciousness and cognition and the capacity to know rather than mindlessly react – is aware that it’s just a berm – and that he isn’t driving headlong into it. And therefore no ned to slam on the brakes and cut the throttle.

But the system disagrees – and brakes. 

This also happens when the system decides your right-left passing maneuver to get around a slow-poke was “too close”  . . . and applies the brakes (and cuts the throttle) while in the midst of your maneuver.

Making what had been a safe maneuver a suddenly very unsafe one. Like the steering wheel jerk – er, “assistance” – which is applied when you made a lane change without turning on your signal first.

It makes one’s teeth ache.

There are several common denominators here – including the insufferable effrontery of the we-know-best crowd that is force-feeding this technology to us, just as they force-fed killer air bags to us.

Also the irony of justifying it all on the basis of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – despite objective evidence and common sense to the contrary.

One thing’s for sure – as people find out about these “features” – and how unavoidable they’re becoming in new cars – it is likely more and more people are going to say No Thanks to new cars.

Me among them.

. . .

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  1. My 2018 Camry has twice jerked the steering wheel nearly out of my hand. Both times while going 75 in a 75. I could’ve rolled!

    • Hi Gene,

      Yup. I deal with this every week, as I drive a new car every week. I suspect that as the public becomes more aware of what is coming, there will be more outrage expressed.

      Or so I am hoping…

  2. Eric, you are absolutely right about these safety problems. I don’t think there is a problem with having these features in principle, but the way they are implemented is atrocious. Just as Microsoft can’t seem to ship a decently running OS anymore, all software engineering has gone downhill in quality. All that matters is features and sales, quality be damned. To make the situation even worse, the software industry is dominated by pointy-haired bosses (re Dilbert comics), so even if engineers can get it right, the buffoons over them will not permit it. I speak from first-hand experience as a software engineer.

    With proper thought, insight, common sense and testing, I believe many of these features could be done right and be helpful, but the overall moral decay of our society will prevent meaningful change. For example, the lane assist feature could simply induce vibration into the steering wheel if the car believes there to be a problem. It doesn’t need to actually steer the car. This would allow for errors in the software as well as unforeseen circumstances, yet still alert the driver of an unsafe lane change or if he is falling asleep. I believe something similar could be designed for situations needing braking as well, but alas, I don’t believe it will ever happen.

    Even without the newer safety stuff, we see the effects of poor engineering foresight when cars age and components begin to breakdown. I am all with staying with the older cars, but they also become a significant problem to maintain when electrical wiring, components, and connections begin to fail. Troubleshooting and repairing these problems become too expensive to perform. A little engineering foresight could allow for more graceful degradation, but it will never happen since the only thing that matters in driving new car sales. Concern about future owners is absent.

    The only solution is a spiritual revival, where we return to morality and engineers and their managers care about the quality of their work. I am not holding my breath.

    • It’s called Planned Parent…err, I mean, “planned obsolescence”. lol But seriously, these bastards don’t want us holding on to our stuff for very long. The idea is more turnover so that the businesses make more money…sooner (AKA consumerism); not to mention more control over us. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lobby to make personal ownership of anything illegal!

  3. I was driving my semi 3 days ago, just exited, veering left onto a service road. As I veer left there was a local road straight ahead, beyond 50 feet of median. Separate road, no access. But as I veer left it see the vehicles on the local road and slams on the brakes, shuts me down hanging out in the middle. Dude is saying on the cb, wtf asshole?

    • WHAAAAAT they gots those stupid “features” on big rigs now? Good grief. And to think the states are demanding dozens of hours of “training” before they’ll issue the class of driving license to get behind the wheel of one of those things….. and the comuters override all that training, no ootion?

      I drove for a while, and if I still were, and someone gave me one of those assist controled monsters, I’d hang up my Budd wrench.

      This nannies gotta nannie insanity will soon enough be putting more folks under the daisies than firearms do.
      I wonder if there is any record being kept fo reports of crashes involving these featiures.. or the super bright airliner landing lights they put on the front of so many new cars these days.

      • I knew a guy in a rolling parking lot doing less than 15mph and an idiot in a car cut across nearly hitting his driver’s side fender at which point the truck braked hard. Then his phone went off and he got an ass-chewing for driving like that. He changed employers pretty fast.

  4. Excellent article. Eric’s testing is very important. Given the obvious failures you cited, what do the car makers do with the detailed reports on these events which you presumably prepare for each test drive? Ho hum…?

    Even Boeing has now figured out that the automatic crash avoidance systems on newest aircraft need to have manual overrides to prevent AI crashes caused by bad sensors or overlapping inputs.

    If sensors on cars/trucks aren’t adequate to detect all of the possible “things to avoid” and those which are not dangerous and don’t needed to be automatically “avoided” then they are worthless and dangerous.

  5. “… more and more people are going to say No Thanks to new cars.” Precisely why I just spent $5000+ on parts for my 2002 F350 Powerstroke. Except for the transmission re-manufature, I did all the work myself. It may have a bit of rust, but it runs like a top. Just need to figure out how to disable the air bag without generating a code. Pretty sure I can run over a Prius and not even noticing it.

      • Replacing the water pump today as soon as the UPS guy delivers it. Original type made by International. You’re invited. All the difficult stuff has been done (fan clutch, gasket scraped, etc). You can do the install and I’ll sit in my chair and supervise. See if you can get to western Iowa by noon or so. 🙂

    • My ’98 E 350 Powerstroke has 360K on it, I’ve hardly touched it, and it still runs like a fine Swiss watch. The ABS system failed a 100K or so back, and I rejoiced. The ONLY two times I’ve ever come close to stacking that thing up happened under near identical conditions/situations Wet road, sort of a dip, signal changed VERY close…. but too far away to run it at that speed. The dip lowered traction on the front tyres, before I could react and feather the pedal, ABS completely released the brakes, I then tried feathering, ABS fought me, I released completely,, front wheels caught, ABS disengaged, and I feathered the brakes and stopped right AT the crossing line.. heartrate RATHER accelerated, but I did not go “code brown”. Happened again about a year later, same thing exactly, but this time I released sooner, remembering the last time, and was able to defeat ABS and ride it to a standstill myelf. About six months after that the ABS light came on, I slowed, found open space, and put the brakes through their paces.. worked fine. And I could NOT skid the front wheels no matter what I tried. GREAT NEWS!!!! The stupid ABS has failed!!!! Soo now I have normal brakes. YAY!!!Two and a half million miles, one crash when a tiny car pulled in front of me in a roundabout

        • That’s what I did on my 3500 Turbo Diesel. You can’t do stuff like pull people out with a stretch strap cause the brakes won’t lock down. You can’t stop a trailer going downhill on a slick surface. You can’t lock up and not hit that object you could avoid with locked brakes.

          Probably not one in 100,000 people even know what a stretch strap is these days.

        • I unplugged mine after it nearly got me T-boned at a stop light
          going downhill, now I just have to remember to plug it back in every year when I go for the saaaaaafety inspection.

    • Got a 2002 TDI Beetle here that I’m putting a few bux in. Same thought, why do I want a new IT-weenie’s-RedBull-induced-nightmare car? It’s not necessarily what I’d prefer, but it’s what I’ve got, and it runs, and will keep running for a long time, as long as that 01M VW automatic holds together…

      The 737 Max’s MCAS is an example of manager idiots thinking they can “save cost” by patching an aerodynamic problem with software. Yeah, it might have worked OK IF they made it fail-ops, fail-safe (three sensors and a voting scheme, etc.), AND had notified the airlines buying it that they needed additional flightcrew training, AND made sure the maintenance docs paid special attention to sensor care and feeding. They did none of the above, and two 737 Max’es, their crews, and passengers are now permanent monuments to their stupidity. All these manager idiots who make stupid decisions in favor of overthought, overwrought software for safety of life critical functions (like lane assist, etc. for cars) should be held criminally liable for each bad outcome of their decisions. Maybe then, with Mahogany Row in various companies marching off to the Grey Bar Hotel, will engineering once again prevail over whizz-bang lunacy.

  6. My 2018 Tacoma hit the brakes for no reason at all while I was traveling at highway speed on a curvy mountain road, a road I know like the back of my hand. Thankfully, I was on a straightaway with no other vehicles in sight. I thought it was pretty weird, but then forgot about it. Getting the Bible-sized owners manual out to figure it out would have helped, but I didn’t. Then, a few months later, I got a recall notice for the sensor. Locating the relevant pages in the book after a couple of hours of searching, I realized I could turn it off! So I had the sensor replaced, then turned it off. The reason we have drivers is so they can drive, at least it was in my time. I’ve been a licensed driver more than 55 years. The worst accident I ever had was in my ’49 Dodge one-ton, which had no safety devices at all. Good thing there was no seatbelt, as I would have been hanging sideways in the cab on top of my dog. As it was, after a full cartwheel down a rocky fill slope, both of us ended up standing on the inside of the passenger-side door, me with a single scratch, and him uninjured. Driver’s-side door was too heavy to open, so I popped out the rear window (this was a five-window cab, and a fine truck, with a flat-head six, my all-time favorite engine). Can you even pop out a window these days?

  7. All these safety freaks need to be locked in a padded room for our safety. Many of these safety systems lack the human touch, or intuitive reckoning; the ability to adapt to conditions without going overboard. Like a computer, many of the systems are made by different suppliers and getting them to work on the same page can be frustrating. A computer that doesn’t always work smoothly is no problem, unlike a vehicle which might take on a mind of its own and get someone killed. I totally dislike all the nanny features because I distrust the systems behind them. The computer nerds often think we live is a perfect and sterile world that can be controlled by bits and bytes. Nonsense…the human element will never be “computerized” with any great efficiency.

    For example, Ford’s stop and go where the engine is shut off when you stop. I disengage it every time. I do not trust it, nor do I trust the starter won’t need replacing because of the start-stop-start wear and tear. Besides, I can save much more gas by driving more efficiently. After a year, my average MPG is still slowly rising. That’s if I can trust the system monitoring fuel usage. The control freaks are out of control and you see it everywhere you go. Marxism anyone? It’s here and thriving.

  8. You bring up exactly the reason why my newest vehicle is a 2004 with none of that junk … my next newest is 1990 and a 1983 Dodge P/U … I am completely in control of such behemoths …

      • eric, now you know why my cut-off point is 94. I want no airbags nor anything else. I realize I’d have to go back further than I want to get away from anti-lock brakes. I wouldn’t mind a crewcab 4WD pre-seatbelt either. Of course I’d be stopped constantly since LEO’s don’t understand it.

        Texas Tech Univ. used to have these late 50’s, early 60’s 3/4 T 4WD ex-military Suburbans or what became the Suburban. Everyone that drove one said they were bullet-proof with locking axles and all the whistles and bells driveline wise military had in theirs. I’d loved to have had one and tried to find one for sale. Seemed like faculty members were the only ones who could buy one.

  9. I have a Garmin GPS that includes warnings, such as following too closely or leaving the lane alerts. It’s wrong about the lane position all the time. Construction areas send it into a frenzy of beeping, for example, but I’ve seen it alert on just regular driving too, while I haven’t left the lane and there’s nothing unusual about the road. So I know this technology is by no means foolproof. Fortunately, the GPS doesn’t get to countermand me and I can shut it off when it gets too annoying. I guess those days are numbered though.

    • I own an older Subaru station wagon, but when I take long road trips or fly out of Dulles for an extended trip, I use rental cars.

      Between my Magellan SatNav and the rental cars’ onboard computers, there is a steady stream of mindless distractions. They’re constantly droning on about taking a break, with both of them conveniently displaying a steaming cup of coffee icon. (Perhaps they’re both sponsored by Folgers.) That’s just part of the harassment. If these two yappers were human passengers I’d abandon ’em at the nearest rest stop while they were in the toilets.

      The worst car I’ve rented so far was a Jeep. Oh how I longed for the fun, stripped-down practicality of older models! The jeep cut its engine every time I came to a stop. For a woman my age, having my car engine cut off at a dangerous urban intersection invokes a sense of looming disaster. I can defend myself, but I don’t want to. That’s why I generally drive cars that don’t cut their engines arbitrarily. The jeep had an onboard SatNav system that required constant adjustment. In the middle of rush hour traffic the little POS would demand I peer through the evening gloom to select various options, otherwise it would refuse to tell me how to proceed. Most terrifying of all, every time I attempted to merge into traffic an orange light affixed to the side view mirror would flash, destroying my night vision. I couldn’t gauge the speed or proximity if the oncoming traffic under these conditions, so every time I merged I simply floored it and hoped for the best. I stopped at a 7-11 for coffee, because my aged body was still in a time zone located on the other side of the world. At some point in the process of parking, leaving/reentering the vehicle, and restarting my journey, I accidentally touched a button that caused the Jeep to flatten both side view mirrors back, as if it were an angry cat. I discovered this latest attempt on my life while I was already enmeshed in hectic traffic. It took me three death-defying, mirror-less merges before I was able to safely pull off to the side of the road. I rummaged through my briefcase for tape, and taped the side view mirrors into the correct position. I used more tape and sticky notes to cover the deadly orange blinking lights on both side view mirrors.

      When I arrived home 4 hours later, I was never more grateful to have made it alive. What an awful experience.

      The other features you describe, such as lane assist and automatic braking, would have caused me to abandon the rental car. I overcame the craziness of the side-view mirrors, and I now use my own SatNav, which I can at least prevent from making noise. I wish I could turn off the silly “suggestions,” but so far I haven’t been able to figure that one out.

      I want to know how many Americans are killed and/or maimed by these so-called safety devices.

      I think the body count is much higher than any of us fear.

      • Ditto, Elizabeth!

        I am forced to deal with this every week because I drive new cars every week… so I am among the first to experience all the latest saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety tech. It makes me want to smash things.

      • The plan is to force people into giving up driving. This is why late-model cars have these “safety features” as standard equipment. The only way to avoid it is to drive older cars; but I presume those will one day be banned as well.

    • Just look on the satellite view on Google Maps and you will see two sets of roads in many places: the actual road and the map road which can be anywhere from ten to a hundred yards or more offset. Sometimes the map roads are nowhere near correct, showing a “road” which is actually someone’s driveway or maybe a hundred year old two track or nothing at all.

  10. Having been in congress on the Transportation Committee, I can clear up the, “Why” to this conversation. Every government employee works for that Retirement/golden nest egg, that is based on wages. The more a government employee makes the more the retirement pays. If a government employee wants to move up in pay to have a larger retirement pay out and just hopes to move up when others retire, that is likely not going to happen. What happens is, say a county employee works in Transportation and wants to move up. They get involved with city, other counties, state and federal employees in that same field, Transportation to create new regulations. There are conventions where government employees share new and creative schemes to create new regulation. This creates a need for new employees which moves current government employees up to new higher paying positions to supervise the new employees, adding value to the Retirement Nest Egg. In the start of each new session congress blows through these new regulations that are cleverly written so the don’t sound like the government employees are legislators making new laws, but they actually are creating new laws. The older government employee teach the new employees how to create new regulation schemes so they too can grow that Nest Egg and make more money at the same time. All of which has turned government into a, Multilevel Marketing Scam that works against everything this country was intended to be.

    • Wow. How do we stop this from happening?
      Whenever I go into a local town meeting to give my opinion for them to ‘not grow more gov. control/regulation’, they all yell at me. 20+ years. And the results are always the same, what they create(d) always turns out bad. But then a new group comes in 4-6 years later, I go in again, say the same basic stuff, now with results from the last mistakes, and they yell at me again. Fun, not.

      • I left my elected position because it was totally impossible to get anything changed. Trying to get a law to curb the injustice brought out a dangerous place to find one’s self. Look at what is happening to the current POTUS who is standing in the way to try and keep the system from scamming the American People.

        • I haven’t been to the fever swamp on the Potomac, but will second what you said. I’ve been active as a small town councilman and mayor for decades. Too much inertia, too much sociopathic evil, too much fear and too much ignorance to battle. For all his flaws I really respect Trump for sacrificing his remaining years on this planet to fight the good fight, but the corruption is too deep to correct without the natural cycle of death and rebirth. Peace brother.

  11. Here’s a scary thought for you; they have adaptive cruise and collision avoidance systems on tractor trailers now. Same issues as described with the Prius except the Toyota doesn’t weigh 35-40 tons and won’t jacknife if you hit the brakes too hard on a wet road.

    • Hi Frederick,

      Yup – I am hip. I have OTR trucker friends. These guys are in need of such “assistance” about as much as grass needs encouragement to grow. The only reason for all of this garbage is a combination of busybodyism and make-work-ism.

      • eric, you have that right. I wouldn’t drive one. The automatic braking for avoiding another vehicle is a killer, literally. And doing so on a slick road is not even something I want to consider.

        The people who believe stories of how long it takes a loaded truck to stop on dry pavement thing that all the brakes are new and they’re all adjusted perfectly to each other. That’s stupidity at it’s height, but I repeat myself, that’s bureaucrat thought.

  12. Thought the engine blew up in my wife’s ’18 Mazda 3 the first (and hopefully the last) time the brake assist activated when the system deemed I got too close to the car in front of me turning right. It was like “Wham-O!”. So I dialed down the sensitivity as much as the system allowed. Turning it off requires going through several menus every time you start the car.

  13. All of these technologies are encouraging bad driving techniques, training bad drivers. The car companies market this stuff as features, but to any thinking person, it’s all hindrance. Sadly, most people I know LOVE this tech. I just don’t get it. So frustrating.

    I will drive the wheels off of my older un-computerized cars until (and after) they outlaw them.

    • “All of these technologies are encouraging bad driving techniques”

      Absolutely correct. As more drivers get less and less skilled the eventual outcome will be that good drivers will be further penalized. The assumption will be that anyone driving a non-computerized auto is a clear danger to everyone and any accidents he is in MUST be because he did not respond properly.

  14. Computer programers can’t even get a everyday web browser to work properly. So how are they going to program a car?

    People are too reliant on objects that are frankly not very reliable. Sail fones for one.

    • I work on L4 and L5 autonomous cars (these are the kinds that fully self drive, no attention needed from the “driver”, since you never have to intervene).

      The Automotive industry has a very rigorous set of safety qualifications which you must comply with, and many tests to pass. These ADAS (advanced driver assist systems) devices like auto-braking, since they are only helpers, don’t have to pass any of these tests, and it shows, they’ve got many false positives.

      Once you work on something which is responsible for the car, a whole lot of new rules start to apply. I realize today isn’t a great time to defend automatic systems in light of the 737 MAX debacle, but the automotive industry is adopting aviation industry functional safety standards, which are pretty damn good overall. It slows down engineering tremendously, but also, everything is thoroughly vetted at every step of the way.

      Today, we don’t have autonomous systems for cars which can pass these tests successfully, the technology doesn’t exist, and anyone who tells you that it does is lying.

      • Hi OP,

        Thanks for your insight on this matter. My understanding with regard to aviation is that it’s a bit easier because for the most part, the routes are defined and predictable; traffic is also heavily monitored and controlled. But with cars, we’re talking about millions of independently moving “widgets” operating at random (no “flight plan”)… which probably makes this whole “autonomous car” thing exponentially more challenging…

        • Right, it’s a harder problem with cars. However, the process of certifying and testing software for safety will be similar; extremely conservative, no changes at the last minute (Boeing acted badly here), everything is audited and tracked, so that blame and repercussions can be assigned. Once someone’s reputation, career, or freedom is on the line, things change.

          Autonomous cars are an extremely hard problem. The best cameras we have are not as sensitive as human eyes, so the cameras are augmented with lidar, which is functionally blind when it’s raining or even very humid, and radar, which is very imprecise, fancy GPS which is blocked by buildings, and inertial measurement devices, which have drift. All these sensors suck, and make you appreciate the amazing capabilities of human perception.

          So, back to cars. This half blind, half deaf car that’s piloted by an idiot computer has one advantage, it can pay 100% attention, 100% of the time. As the cars get better, at some point, the idiot that pays undivided attention will be better than the geniuses who drive distracted, then better than the average driver. So, assume this time comes, that you can get cars which drive at least as well as you do, this could be a nice thing to have right?

          Now, there’s the question of cost. Expect this first in the Maybach or Bentley price range, not Ford or Toyota.

          • I have one question on autonomous cars.


            What is the market need being filled, that is currently going unfilled by road vehicles with drivers?

            And, why are we not seeing this thing start in the aviation industry, where they’ve had CAT IIIc Autoland capabilites since the late 1960’s? Lockheed demonstrated fully automated take-off to landing capabilities with the L-1011 heavy trimotor in the 70’s, too. I would have thought the easier autonomous vehicle case was a freight aircraft, for example. Why road vehicles, with all the interrelated unknowable variables that will freak the software out?

            • Because right now, cars grant people too much freedom. Airplanes, especially since Nahnelevun, are heavily monitored in terms of where they go, who’s getting on and off, etc. so there’s no point in trying to take the human out of the equation. Cars, on the other hand, are still by and large answerable only to whoever is sitting in the driver’s seat. This is unacceptable to those who are convinced that we must all be micromanaged for our own good, or simply want to micromanage us for their own good.

              It’s like I said before – notice how speed-camera-using governments always seem to react more harshly if there is a rude gesture or some kind of avoidance strategy (radar detector, LIDAR jammer, removed front plate, etc.) visible in the photo? Not only is freedom from micromanagement intolerable to the powers that be, the very desire to be free from micromanagement is intolerable to them. They think they own us, and there is no low they won’t sink to in an attempt to prove it.

              • Hi Chuck,

                Flying has become so onerous that many – those who can, like me – just don’t anymore. That is what they’re trying to do to cars and driving, too.

        • eric, I hate anti-lock brakes. They’ll get you killed pulling a trailer or on a steep snow/ice slick slope. There are times all you want is for all the brakes to lock up and don’t worry about what direction you’re pointed just as long as you STOP!

          Back in the early 80’s Car and Driver took a lot of vehicles and tested them for stopping distance with the anti-lock feature on. Then tested them without it. Of course every one of them stopped faster without anti-lock on. Trying to get down to speed that 3-4 feet you stop quicker can make the difference in 2 totaled vehicles and many injuries. I’ll take a set of flat-spotted tires any day over a hard slam into anything.

          When I learned to drive it was mostly on plain old dirt roads. Not improved with gravel or such, just dirt. When it would come a good rain, you’d stop and put chains on your 2 WD and then everybody that wasn’t driving got in the back and jumped up and down to keep it moving forward. I got in the back of my ex-BIL’s Ford half ton and jumped up and down for 2 miles one day. I couldn’t do that now but I was wore out when I was young and in good shape. I’m sure that’s a lost art and a lot of people have never heard of such.

          A friend with a Dodge X cab Cummins 4WD started down one of those bad muddy roads one day, going downhill. At about 100 yds he realized he had made a bad mistake. That front heavy Dodge wouldn’t back up in it’s own tracks so before he was really in a bad place, a steep barditch he stopped and called a friend who came out in his gas 4wd Chevy, backed down to him and pulled him out.

          I’ve been on lots of locations where a regular cab 4WD gas engine pickup would drive around a 4WD diesel that was stuck. Lots of oil field support companies use gas 4WD pickups for that very reason.

          Lots of times we’d load the bed with feed or hay to get to where we needed to go. I worked at a gypmill once and when it snowed or had some ice fall while you were at work, it would be a line of vehicles backing up to a big dumpser full of 100 lb sacks of plaster that didn’t pass snuff. People just don’t know any of those old tricks these days. When they’re stuck, they’re stuck.

          • The reason for the ABS is to increase accidents. This increases tax revenue, more parts that collect tax, more workers to make the parts who pay more tax, and the ability of bureaucraps to make new rules to deprive us of our mobility. all these regs are there to increase government revenue, and most importantly to remove our freedoms. The increase in accidents leads to higher insurance rates, which also are taxed, and more regs now promulgated by the insurance companies…………………..

            • I totaled my own pickup, a new one in front and injured another in front of that. My brakes just decided to not work. It was like I was doing little more than letting off. I was about to break the pedal and steering wheel but no soap. I shoulda sued shit out of GM.

            • Got that right! The bureau-RATS’ goal is perpetual regulation and control; without which there would be no government (and vice-versa).

              • Every time I hear a bureaucrat or read some shit they’ve said or or written, I feel a little piece of freedom die and my BP spike.

      • The “legacy” automotive industry is interested in standards. Wall Street punishes them for this because they are seen as behind the times. Tesla Motors clearly doesn’t care about standards, FMEAs, or much of anything but blaming the customer when the customer uses their products in a predictable fashion.

    • This^^^. My business is automation and factory robotics. Even in mostly controlled situations where we control almost all the variables out- where regularly shaped objects come down a conveyor, even in this situation we have program bugs, and hardware bugs, and firmware bugs. A really good system you can program out the 95-99% most common problems. Which leaves an literal infinity of problems out there lurking, waiting to be discovered. And BTW, the more sophisticated the programming, the more potential interactions and the more undiscovered features there are.

      In the real world, there are coyotes and raccoons, and moose on the roads. There are random and changing patches of gravel, or ice. There are meteorological conditions which will mess with sensors and algorithms. There are hostile human actors who will find some clever hack to force a stop and hijack a car. In the real world, shit happens.

      Pragramming a car? We could do it decades ago. But we used to understand that it was a bad idea.

      • When you mentioned regularly shaped objects on a conveyor and how problematic that is it’s exactly what I’ve seen with regards to the challenges of robotics. Robots are very slow too. The robot pallet jack forklift thing I’ve seen is much slower than a human controlled forklift. That too took a long time to find merely almost all the issues and fix them. The uncontrolled environment of the outside world is a so much worse.

  15. Two of those NHTSA complaints are me, and I’ll keep reporting this whenever it happens. My wife’s car is a 2016 Subaru Outback, which has that EyeSight driver assist nonsense. Twice now it’s panic braked with nothing in front of us, just the right play of shadow on the ground, both times around sunrise or sunset. What also drives me up a wall is that the damn thing recognizes tar lines on the road as lane markers, and tries to nudge us over into a lane that’s a figment of its imagination.

    Sure, you can disable this stuff, but when you do, the dashboard lights up like a christmas tree with warning lights.

    • My mom bought a new 2016 Forester right before her stroke. I drove it a few times and decided real quick that I did not want it, so we sold it to her neighbor at a deep discount. It would scream at me just driving it into the garage because there was a wall in front of it. It didn’t seem to have the actual lane assist but it would scream about the squiggly tar lines in the road when it rained, that I was “departing” from my lane.

      Fock that sheet!

  16. You left out the adaptive cruise control.

    Good luck trying to pass with that, the throttle shutdown, and the assistive braking.

    • my 300 has adaptive cruise and it is a godsend in urban areas, however I too was concerned about what it would do in certain situations, but as I found out in my cars case is the throttle overrides the nanny. Nice… and safer, haha.
      I guess whoever programmed my car realized that if the human thinks it’s smarter/safer to hit the throttle when the car says no, the human’s judgement should win over……smart.

  17. Hypothetical Scenario: Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, southbound.

    Lane Assist detects “object” in your car’s path and turns right. After all, there are no obstacles detected in that direction. There is nothing at all actually, except for a thousand feet of clean mountain air straight down.

    • I drove that pass over and back to Ouray every day as a kid. Beautiful country, white crosses and all. You are right for sure, it is a long way down to the river.

      I put my Sportage in the body shop when its sacred blind spot detector didn’t see a mini with its lights off move into the same lane as I did in a tunnel Enterprise gave me one of those infamous Rogues to get to work in my downtown glass tower. That Nissan would slam on its brakes every time I got up the ramp near the garage exit gate. I guess it thought the gate was a moose.

      • Hi Dennis,

        Since I test drive new cars I get to experience the leading edge of all this saaaqaaaaaaaaaaafety stuff. It’s a mix of infuriating, defeating and dangerous. It ruins the driving experience – which I suppose is exactly as intended.

        • “It ruins the driving experience – which I suppose is exactly as intended.”

          I think you’re right about that Eric. The city I’m in has, literally, a phallic skyscraper bristling with antenna pubes across the street from where I work. The insufferable commies in the metro DOT are in a full-on war against cars–further ruining poorly maintained and crowded roads with new bus lanes, psycho cyclist lanes, turnarounds, medians, no-parking zones, red-light cams at every poorly sequenced stoplight, milage taxes — y’all know the script.

          The DOT parasites overflowed the phallus and took over three floors in my building, immediately creating a parking shortage in the underground lot. Most of those exempt plates never move. If you should see one moving to destroy the planet, bet it has a single occupant.

          • I think so, too, Dennis.

            The driver is being gradually “nudged” out of the driver’s seat. He is being habituated to ceding control over the car to the car. I have been test driving new cars for more than 25 years now and the fun is going away so fast now it is dizzying. Even the powerful cars like the BMW 850i I had recently are ruined by “assists” that screw up your line as you try to apex a corner or buck the brakes or pull back throttle.

            I makes me want to break things…

      • Hi Dennis,

        Almost 30 years ago, my wife and I rode our mountain bikes from Santa Fe to Crested Butte. Obviously, we stopped for the night in a few places. We spent two nights in Lake City. We took the road slicks off the MTB’s, mounted the big knobbys, and rode to the top. We didn’t go down into Ouray. We were pretty tired after that climb, plus our tent and camping gear were down in Lake City.

        We planned to stay in Crested Butte for a week and then eventually make it across the whole country. The night before we were going to leave, I’m riding down a road in town and the owner of one of the bike shops sprints out of his house shouting, “hey you with the GT, stop”. Turns out, his regular seasonal mechanic, decided against working for him that year. He asked if I could stay and work. We thought about it and said yes. We had a great campsite, 7 miles from town up the Slate River. We lived in a tiny tent together for three months. I worked 3-4 days a week, she didn’t work. But, we didn’t need much, only enough for food, “rent” was free.

        Got damn, that was a great summer.


        • Jeremy, there was one year I barely even moved my car. I did drive it home for a fambly reunion. I had just been “living off the land”, doing this and that and not really giving a shit because life was good…..for no other reason than I could work for a couple friends for a day or two or just whenever and do other things for barter.

          My favorite uncle on my mother’s side was a really nice guy, made his own way doing lots of things and supported a family. He’d been in the “Shit” in the S Pacific (as had another uncle and neither one ever uttered a word in anger) and he asked me how I was doing, what I was doing and I told him. Then I said “I don’t have anything but I don’t need much and life’s really good”. He smiled and told me it sounded good to him. Everyone else was on my ass to “grow up”. I had done that and it hadn’t been all that productive. Getting a job back then if you weren’t a “vet” was nearly impossible so there was an underground of “non-vets” who did just most anything. Wanta paint a house? Sure. Wanta tear one down. Sure. Wanta go to Tule Canyon and hang out? Sure.

          A friends parents raised huge gardens, more than they could possibly eat and offered for us to come get all we wanted. We borrowed a bug(cheap on gas), stuffed it with veggies and got a couple home-cooked meals and went back to the house. We ended up eating cantaloupe for two weeks. Boy were we thing but healthy and yes, I still love cantaloupe.

          Six of us lived in a house with 5 bedrooms and a spare room for whatever. I lived in the “whatever” room, no different from the others. Whenever somebody got food it would disappear like a scene from a sci-fi book. Vanished, instantly. We once got enough together and another friend offered to go to the line and get a case of beer. At least 7 of us there or maybe 8. I never saw a case of beer disappear that fast. Those were the days. Footloose and fancy free and all you had to do was avoid the cops. We had two friends who got nabbed off the street, not because of doing anything wrong except for beards and long hair. They got thrown in solitaire for two weeks, got their heads forceably shaved and thrown out without a charge. They showed up and we barely recognized em.

          I couldn’t tell you how many times I got stopped in my red Duntovmobile. When it was young guys, they often just wanted to look under the hood and wouldn’t give you a ticket. If there was no other reason and there usually wasn’t, they’d say it was too loud. I don’t know how you quieten a 12:1 compression ratio and a big overlap came down. If I could, I shut it off and coast to a stop in traffic hoping the cop car in the next lane wasn’t beside me when the light turned. If they went on I’d crank it up and change lanes to be a few cars behind them and then turn on a side street.

        • Thanks, Jeremy. Great story.

          When I left to first become a college dropout I knew a handful of people with similar arrangements. The advertised Green River ordinances were seldom enforced. I haven’t been back there for a while but there were iPhones then.

  18. The first thing I did with my new Camry was to turn off the Lane Assist and dial the sensitivity on the Collision Avoidance waaaaay down, to the point where a car slowing down 40 feet in front of me would not trigger the “BRAKE” warning.

    At some point during the last regular maintenance visit, the tech dialed the sensitivity of Collision Avoidance back up to the factory setting and left me a hint about Lane Assist, opening the settings menu and making sure it was the first thing I saw when I started the car after picking up the keys.

    Too bad the tech couldn’t be bothered to spend some time cleaning up after himself. The car was returned to me filthy.

  19. Eric – “it is likely more and more people are going to say No Thanks to new cars.”

    Disagree. There are very few conscious humans left. Thinking for oneself is hard, so the majority avoid it. Insecurity and infantilization of the populace have removed the ability for the majority to reason and understand what is actually in their best interest. Whatever they are told is good for them is believed as a gullible child believes whatever it is told.

    Either way, cost will kill car ownership before sound judgement does.

    • You’re a smart person. Eric is right that it may discourage some of us from buying a new tech car. But you’re correct that the large majority want it.
      Saw this stuff happening in my kids schooling. It is/was shameful. Our kids fought this crap back in school and it was great to witness it. Even better was when other kids started to get it too and joined in.

  20. I see no point in these things, other then Corpgov and the auto manufactures thinking their we are idiots. When this crap starts failing in 5 to 10 years….. standby….. .

  21. It’s bad enough that people drive so poorly as a rule anyway. Now we have to watch out for the cars themselves to make unpredictable moves.

    These “assists” go against our natural driving instincts. And what about new drivers that learn with these assists and never develop the skills to actually handle a car?

    • hmmm, didn’t think about that. You’re right that my episode below (70mph brake check) could have easily been the car in front of me doing the brake check itself!!!!
      Maybe this is why there seems to be an accident on our local urban interstate (I80) almost every day now! Sometimes, multiple per day. Almost can’t drive normally anymore. Downer………..

      • And the person who pays the price is nearly always going to be the one in the rear without a dashcam. I’ve always found it was hard to believe people were so stupid as to pass me in a big rig and then brake check. Now they don’t even need to be fools, just have a fool car. I don’t even understand the brake check mentality, esp. with a big rig.

  22. Another “safety” item that should be totally defeatable is “traction assist”. There are cases where a driver is on an uphill slope in icy conditions where a little throttle application is needed to make it over the hill. Traction control CUTS power at the time when it is gravely needed. There are incidents of accidents being caused by this “safety” item.

    • If you hear of the BC lower mainland getting hit with a snow storm, go to one of the local TV station websites to see the carnage in Burnaby/New Westminster. Hilly urban areas.

      It used to be that folks would crest the hill, then slide down the other side, brakes locked. Occasionally you would see one competent enough to lift to regain steering but most just b-lined to the accident. Now, you can see them almost reach the top of the hill (defeated by TC), then helplessly slide backwards into whatever is behind them. Personally, I would rather deal with things moving forward.

      Also fun to watch the cheap ABS keep the wheels turning even though you know the driver is bending the brake pedal trying to stop.

      Of course only motorheads will understand why all of this happens. The average city dweller just accepts that this is the way things are, not understanding the mechanics and physics. So off to the insurance company and then to the car dealer for a newer, even more gizmo laden POS.

      • Going down a slick hill with an automatic transmission, sometimes the best thing is just put it in neutral and use the brakes very carefully. The brake force needed to stop the engine from turning the wheels even in low is often way more than what is needed to just stop the car rolling. It’s especially bad if the engine is still cold and the ECU is idling it at 1000 rpm.

        • So true. When I was a teenager, I had not learned this lesson yet. On an icy driveway, I drove my mother’s car directly into the [closed] garage door with the front brakes locked up and the rear wheels driving. I did not mash the brakes hard enough to lock the rears. Lesson learned, and that was way before ABS.

          • Yep, on a RWD rear wheels just keep pushing while the front tires ski.

            Funny, back in the old days we had these safety devices known as “clutches” LOL

            A REAL 4wd will equalize the braking between front and rear because both axles are locked together. But even then, sometimes I will put my jeep in neutral when backing down my driveway, once I get the back wheels out of the garage where gravity starts to take over.

            I hate automatics 🙁

    • Can’t disable the traction control on our car so we basically don’t drive it in the winter.

      The only thing I’ve found that sort of works going up a slippery hill is just mash the throttle like an idiot and let the traction control do its work. Otherwise if you feather the throttle then the computer tries to do the same thing only poorly and then you just stop, usually just ten feet from the top if the hill.

    • hmmmm, I thought all cars had a TC disable button? And if you hold them for 10+ seconds it will also disable the stability control. All my prior and current cars do this. ’14 and older GM trucks, current Charger, 300, Grand Cherokee, F150.
      Obviously, most, probably well over 90% wouldn’t know what to do anyway.

      • Correct. The safety features are basically required now as so few people actually bothered to learn to really drive a car when they were still controlled by the driver. Most just learn to accelerate, brake and steer in an almost digital fashion. No finesse, no forethought, no clue how to cope when the unexpected happens.

        Wall-E is our future.

      • Our 2006 Chevy car does NOT have the traction control disable, though later years of the same model did. Well, you CAN pull up the parking brake one click.

  23. This stuff is getting a little out of control for sure.
    MY 18 300 has most of this crap, but I’ve been able to defeat most of it easily. Thank you FCA Engineers for building in defeats.
    The auto brake thing I have not been able to defeat, and it almost cost me at 70+ with a truck behind me.
    It auto braked hard because someone ahead of me did a semi-hard brake check. my brain had .1 sec to decide and I mashed the throttle, and it worked. In my cars case, the throttle overroad the auto-brake, whew…..
    I have since learned that the ‘eye’ in the front of the car can be tricked as well. On my routine path to work, there is a car that’s parked right off the road on a curve, and my auto-brake goes on every time. BUT, if i point the wheel, and I guess the eye as well, it doesn’t see the parked car and I go on my merry way.


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